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Animal Abandonment FAQ

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 1:00pm
Black Lab sitting alone on sidewalk

Recently, we told you the story of Callie. Abandoned in a frozen van, Callie was left for dead until the ASPCA and NYPD rescued her. While we were thrilled to report that Callie’s story had a happy ending (she was adopted by the same police officer who found her), it got us thinking about animal abandonment. Though not discussed as often as other, more overt forms of animal cruelty, abandonment is a serious issue. To help understand what abandonment is, how it’s dealt with, and what you can do to help, we’ve answered some of the most Frequently Asked Questions.

What Is Animal Abandonment?

Abandonment laws differ by state, but generally speaking, abandonment happens when an owner or temporary caretaker of an animal leaves that animal in a public or private place (inside or outside) without intending to return for it and without making provision for its continued care.

How Many Animals Are Abandoned Each Year?

Because there is no national reporting requirement for animal abuse, there is no way to track the number of abandoned animals each year. However, we do know 6-8 million companion animals enter shelters nationwide every year. This number includes animals abandoned on the street (found animals) and animals seized after private abandonment in homes or apartments.

Is Animal Abandonment A Crime?

Most states have laws making abandonment of an animal unlawful. It is sometimes a component of cruelty laws, though some states like New York treat it as a separate offense. In New York, it is a Class A misdemeanor.

What Are the Consequences for Animal Abandonment?

Consequences vary nationwide. In New York, it is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1000. Visit our complete list of animal abandonment laws by state. If an abandoned animal is found to be sick, injured or dead, cruelty charges may also be appropriate. In these circumstances, forensic veterinary work may be helpful.

How Are Abandonment Laws Enforced?

Due to the nature of the crime, it is often difficult to identify and locate the owner or caretaker who has abandoned the animal. ID tags and microchips can sometimes help identify the responsibility party. Unfortunately, there are many instances where owners cannot readily be found and charged for abandonment.

What Can I Do To Help?

If you suspect animal abandonment, contact the police or appropriate law enforcement agency in your area. Visit our Fight Cruelty Page for a list of contacts in each state.

Please consider becoming an ASPCA Guardian today. Your support will help us continue our life-saving missions to rescue abandoned animals before it’s too late. 

Comments

Comments

Anonymous

What

21

can you put more information here please!

lilac

Why do people abandon their pets?

B-Dog

I'm using this for homework. Please put more information in, I desperately need it.

ben schneiderb

me to so sad

B-Dog

I'm using this for homework. Please put more information in, I desperately need it.

luzia.

I have four dogs,one I adopted at SPCA of Dallas ,the other 32 I found abandoned in the street,with compassion I adopted them.
Now I am feeding a sweet male dog ,seems abandoned <Un fortunately I can't adopt him,but I wish I would know a group besides Duck team 6.
is anyway you can help me to find help for this sweet dog.
Please do no ask me to call animal control,they are murderer I my opinion,they probably hate animals to be able to do euthanasia,.
I would like something positive,helpful.
it is depressing to see how many people abandoned their animals.and still therew some that have them just to procreate and make money on their behalf.These people should go to jail and stay there forever,because just a slfich cold person woud do that,when there so many abandoned dogs,

luzia.

I have four dogs,one I adopted at SPCA of Dallas ,the other 32 I found abandoned in the street,with compassion I adopted them.
Now I am feeding a sweet male dog ,seems abandoned <Un fortunately I can't adopt him,but I wish I would know a group besides Duck team 6.
is anyway you can help me to find help for this sweet dog.
Please do no ask me to call animal control,they are murderer I my opinion,they probably hate animals to be able to do euthanasia,.
I would like something positive,helpful.
it is depressing to see how many people abandoned their animals.and still therew some that have them just to procreate and make money on their behalf.These people should go to jail and stay there forever,because just a slfich cold person woud do that,when there so many abandoned dogs,

Anonymous

will do

EarlGrayHot

I agree. Some people let animals loose thinking they will fend for themselves instead of taking them to a shelter because they fear the animal will be put down. While I wish all shelters were no-kill, it's still more humane if down by injection than letting an animal starve to death or be injured or die by freezing.

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